Battle of Attrition — Basketball teams fight through injuries as season’s end nears

Published 12:10 am Friday, January 21, 2022

The playoff picture is becoming clearer for local basketball teams as we enter the last few weeks of the regular season.

After an important win over Memorial this week, Nederland is preparing for its next tough test as the Bulldogs host Crosby Friday. The Bulldogs and the Cougars are 4-1 in District 21-5A play and the winner of Friday’s contest will have a head-to-head advantage until, at least, the final game of the season when they meet again.

The Bulldogs are riding a three-game winning streak with their most recent victory coming in a 62-41 win over Memorial Tuesday.

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The Cougars enter the contest on a four-game winning streak. During that span, Crosby outscored opponents 321-155, including dominant wins over Port Neches-Groves and Memorial.

Nederland and Crosby suffered their only district losses at the hands of Beaumont United. The winner of Friday’s game moves into the second place in the district.

PNG was the most recent team to fall to the Cougars with a 91-45 loss Tuesday.

The Indians were without leading scorer Ian Eberhardt, who rolled his ankle in the Indians’ 45-41 loss to Memorial last week.

Head Coach Chris Smith said the injury will likely cost the forward the rest of the season.

“We told everyone that they are going to have to pick it up a little bit,” Smith said. “If you average seven points, we need you to get nine. If you average 10 points, we need you to get 12. Ian was averaging 15 points. That is a lot to make up.”

Smith said his team will rely on Torryan Hinton and Bobby Nguyen to pick up some of the slack.

The Indians are 1-5 in district play, but Smith said he wants his team to finish the season strong.

“We are undeterred,” Smith said. “We have a goal set and our goal doesn’t change because someone got hurt. We are still going to game plan. We are working as though everyone is healthy. You never know when you are going to lose someone. We are well prepared to meet our goals.”

PNG does not play a game Friday and returns to action against rival Nederland Tuesday.

Memorial is also battling injuries as the Titans were without three starters in Tuesday’s loss to Nederland. The Titans entered the game down two starters, but Ke’Andre Jones injured his arm early in the first quarter.

Head Coach Alden Lewis said Jones will miss Friday’s game against Beaumont United, but expects to get his leading scorer back next week.

The Titans are currently fifth in the district, putting them on the outside looking in for the playoffs with a 2-3 record.

The team will take on Barbers Hill Tuesday with a chance to make up some ground on the fourth place Eagles.

“Every game is important from here on out,” Lewis said. “We want to get guys healthy and get guys back on the court. We are just trying to execute and finish the season strong and see what happens at the end. That is the main focus.”